Despite the oddness of the scenery present all around himself, Hineni finds himself simply standing there, taking a sip of his drink as he admires this new view.


— People scream off to the side, their horrified voices carrying through the flames that engulf the deep-forest.


Fresh morning air reaches his face, cusping the strands of his long, unwashed hair. There hasn’t really been time for him to clean up yet, as they’re still in the middle of their move. He hasn’t really slept either, as he’s been busy carrying boxes around all night.


The tired man exhales, rolling his shoulders back and letting them pop as he relaxes.


— A group of priests runs by, carrying a stretcher on which lays a screaming man, missing a leg.


Hineni calmly sips his tea.


This is going to be good.


The sun rises in the distance, cresting over the long, endless forest that he looks out over from the ever-so-slight hill, which he now stands upon.


This is the property that they had purchased. Apparently, whoever had owned it before, had held onto it for a long time in the hopes of developing it further, once the city really started to boom. All signs had indicated that this would be the case sooner rather than later.


But that was before the war broke out. Now, it’s just an empty, little hill, surrounded by the houses of the city, which lays partially in flames.


“It’s a real up and coming neighborhood, huh?” asks Sockel.


— A boulder hurtles through the air, doused in burning oil. It crashes down into the city, crushing a house flat, off towards the south-east.


“Well. At least the crime rate is low,” remarks Hineni.


“That’ll happen when you have no criminals left alive,” replies Sockel.


Hineni nods. “The system works.” He looks around the space around themselves. The military escort had essentially just dropped them off here. A group of workers and engineers is scheduled to show up soon enough, to help get a forge established and running. So, until they arrive, he has nothing to do, as there is no storage space of any kind to unpack all of their things into.


He turns his head, looking at Rhine, who is slumped over some crates and sleeping there as is.


It could be worse. At least here there’s something to do and to watch here, closer to the south. That old city and neighborhood were both nice, but he feels like he’s simply outgrown them both after all of these years.


— A screeching harpy flies through air, shooting out of the forest and carrying a flailing man in its talons, up towards the sky.


Hineni sips his tea.



“…A tree…?” asks the military-engineer, looking down at the papers and then towards his colleagues, who shrug in response. He turns back towards Hineni.


Rhine takes the plans, pointing at them to make it clear. “It says ‘tree’ right here,” he explains, pointing at the very well drawn blue-print of a tree.


“Yes, but, uh…” The engineer leans in. “You know we can’t make trees, right?” He looks at Hineni. “Are you folks alright?” he asks, tilting his head. “Besides, I thought this was supposed to be a smithing operation.”


“Weaponsmithing,” notes Hineni. “- Important distinction.”


“Sure, but, you see what I’m getting at here, right?” asks the engineer.


Hineni lifts a hand. “Don’t worry about the tree. We’ll handle it,” he explains. “What I want from you and your crew is to help me get a forge set-up in the meantime. The exterior building.”


A voice calls in from the side. “— Don’t forget the library!” calls Seltsam. “We need to get the books sheltered!”


“A what?” asks the engineer. “A library?”


“You heard her,” replies Hineni. “A library too.”


The engineer rubs his face, groaning. Stubble and exhaustion are clear to see on his half-vacant expression, the man has likely been up for days as well. “This seems like a really low-priority job,” remarks the engineer, looking at his team, who are slumped down, just as exhausted as he is. “We were building a bridge yesterday to cross a river that couldn't flow anymore because it was so full of corpses. There wasn’t even water left. It was just bodies,” he says. “And you want us to build a library now? Really?”


“Yup,” replies Hineni, without missing a beat. He points at the plans. “Just set it over there,” he explains. “The forge we’ll need here, closer to the road, so it’s easier to manage material deliveries.”


“I’m really not sure if this is a good use of our time,” remarks the engineer.


“That’s not your problem,” remarks Hineni. “Your job is to build stuff, so, let’s get to it,” he remarks. “Orders are orders.”


The engineers sigh a collective sigh, rising to their feet to set to their work, whatever that might entail.


Hineni nods. This was a productive, helpful conversation for all parties involved.



Hineni wanders the streets of the new city.


It is later in the day and the war-effort rages on as violently as ever.


He sips his drink, wandering the roads. “Oh, hey,” says Hineni, pointing to the building on a corner. The window is smashed in. “There’s a baker here.”


“Nice!” says Rhine, looking at the building that hasn’t caught fire yet. “I liked having a bakery so close by in the other city. It made getting breakfast really easy all the time.”


Hineni nods, stepping over a twisted chunk of metal that was presumably a helmet once.


It’s important to appreciate the little things in life.


“I think the city-hall is down this way,” notes Sockel, pointing off towards the left, down a road. They find themselves at a central crossing with a large fountain in the middle of itself. Hineni follows her finger, pointing down a street that is lined with houses, the fronts of which have entirely caved in from above, as if a giant monster had crawled down the road, crushing them inadvertently during its passing.


“That’s good,” he replies. “It’ll make the paperwork easier to manage if its close by.”


Sockel nods in content agreement as they keep walking.


“…Hey,” asks Rhine. “Do you guys think this is all kind of dark?”


“Dark?” asks Sockel. “What are you talking about, twerp?” She lifts a hand, getting ready to flick his forehead. Rhine quickly pulls his head to the side, avoiding her attack.


“I dunno,” he replies.


They step over a skeleton, melted clean of its clothes, flesh and musculature by some powerful magic, presumably. “- Just… dark, you know?”


“Eh.” Sockel shrugs.


Hineni nods. “Seems fine to me.”


“You’re probably just being dramatic,” notes Sockel.


Rhine rubs his lip with the back of his thumb. “Yeah… I guess you guys are probably right,” he relents. “I think I’m still kind of excited. I’ve never really moved like this before, so, you know.” He shrugs.


Hineni places a hand on his shoulder. “Don’t worry about it, Rhine,” he consoles. “It’s weird for all of us. But we’ll make it work.”


Sockel kicks a torn, burnt teddy-bear to the side, into a heap of smoldering ashes.


“Yeah, thanks,” replies Rhine. “I guess I’m just worrying for no reason.”


Hineni nods, looking around the burning city.




This is good.



It is later in the day, the full morning and afternoon both having come to pass.


Hineni stands on their new property, looking into a small doll-house that sits nested from the elements between a stack of wooden crates.


“Hey, Eilig,” he says, knocking on the tiny door with his finger. “How’re you feeling?”


Eilig shuffles around inside of the doll-house. He can hear her walking to the door. A moment later, she opens it and stares at him.


— Then she slams the door shut again.


“I’m fine. Get lost.”


Hineni nods, content with that answer. If she was feeling unwell, she wouldn’t be snarky. So this returning attitude of hers is a good sign, all things considered.



It is the next day.


The construction on the new house has begun, the workmen having marked out the rooms on the grassy hill. They’ve now begun leveling it enough for a structure to be set up.


“What the hell is this?” asks Hineni, looking at what can only be described as a sack of meat.


Sockel slaps the suspiciously wet, burlap sack. It lets out an odd squelching noise, dark red droplets running down out through its porous exterior. “This here?” she asks. She grabs the draw-strings and pulls it open. “This here is grade-A monster goo,” replies the elf.


Severed claws and talons fall out of the sack, down onto the ground. All of them are still attached to paws and hands and things that could only best be described as fingers.


“You wanted to use monster parts to make some new weapons,” explains Sockel, bending down and picking up a long, curved talon that still is attached to a foot of some kind. “So, here you go. I took the initiative and put in some orders to get us started.”


“I mean…” Hineni tilts his head. “You’re not wrong in your thinking. But, couldn’t you at least order ones that aren’t so… chunky?”


- [Drake Talon {Whelp}] -

- Quality -


- Quality Effects -


A bloody, severed talon that once belonged to a growing drake whelp. Old meat still hangs to the black, razor-sharp growth.
Weight: 0.1kg Value: 12 Obols


Sockel pokes him with the severed foot. “Listen. Either we buy the chunky ones at a good price, or we pay out the ass to have some homeless person clean off the meat for us.”


Hineni sighs. “Okay, fine. Fair enough,” he says. “I guess we can just… I dunno… scrape it off.”


“Why not just let nature take care of it?” asks Rhine. Hineni looks his way. “We can just put them out in the forest, or in a river or something. After a few days, the meat will be gone, but the bones and stuff like that will still be there.”


Sockel points over her shoulder, towards the forest that is covered in a sheet of ice, as some caster had gone out of their way to fire off a particularly powerful spell. Hineni isn’t sure, but that might even be from one of his own magically crafted skulls. “You mean that forest?” she asks. “Sounds like a great way to lose our merchandise.”


“Why not just build a kind of drying tower?” asks Seltsam’s voice from the side, as she joins in on the conversation. The hooded, robed librarian peeks around a stack of crates. “We need a tower for the forge’s chimney anyway, right?” Seltsam lifts a finger as she explains. “Then why not add a section to the exterior for stuff like that to the outside. Then birds and insects can gnaw off all of the uh… the extra parts.”


Hineni rubs his chin. “I dunno… that sounds like it would take a long time.”


“Oh, not at all!” replies Seltsam. “Down here, close to the south, the animals can get uh… voracious. Especially the bugs. I bet you that in a day or two, anything you put out there will be picked clean.”


Hineni thinks about it and then nods, looking over towards the chief-engineer. “Hey,” he calls over to get the man’s attention. “We need a revision on the forge,” explains Hineni, receiving an annoyed look. “Don’t worry,” he says, to try and calm the man. “This is strictly to help the military and not for anything else.”


That might be a half-lie, of course. At best a third of a full lie.


But they don’t need to know that.


It’s not every day you get a house built for you. So he might as well make the most of it.



Night has come, looming heavily over the end of one of their first days in the region.


Hineni lays on his back, the owl-god next to him as they stare up towards the sky. “So, what do you think?” asks Hineni.


The night is quiet. The war seems to slow down around night-time. It isn’t so much because people can’t see in the dark and therefore can’t fight as well. Rather, according to Sockel and Seltsam, it’s because down here near the deep forests, there are things that skulk the night. It’s too dangerous to leave the lights of fires and camps, even during a full-scale war. In the dark forests, there are simply too many hungry things that gnaw and bite and claw and pull people into the screaming darkness.


“It is a welcome change,” hoots the owl-god.


Hineni nods, looking up towards the heavy sky, full of a thousand and then some shining stars.


This move was a good idea. This is going to be great.


The two of them hold hands and watch the sky, observing what they assume is a shooting star fly past. But it's really just a red dragon, carrying away a carriage full of people.

A note from Razzmatazz


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About the author


Bio: Socially awkward witches, sad hugs, dramatic adventures, spooky stuff, and comfy dungeons: My name is D.M. Rhodes, but I love to write about those things under the moniker 'Razzmatazz'. (Hopefully full-time, one day soon!) I’m a hobby occultist and, more boringly, I’m an XR expert, as well as a government-trained media and information specialist.

The main genres that I write in are litRPG-fantasy, action, adventure, romance, tragedy, horror, and slice-of-life. I seriously vibe with religious and occult overtones mixed in with super obscure story concepts. °( ~ )°

Thanks for taking an interest! Because of supportive readers like yourself, I can keep following my socially unacceptable dream! (I'm going to become the wizard-king.)

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Snaiper34521 ago

Thanks for the chapter

The two of them hold hands and watch the sky, observing what they assume is a shooting star fly past. But it's really just a red dragon, carrying away a carriage full of people.

Red. This is a bad sign. I think something bad is about to happen.

Enelthrei ago

Thx for the chapter! It wonderfully apocalyptic!!

Sasugamancer215 ago

Thanks for the chapter, everything is going to be fine, especially with all that free scrap metal!

Dreamerghost ago

You know it's bad when there's not even enough people around to steal scrap metal. Then again, metal is extremely cheap in this universe

Tealc ago

Thanks for the chapter! I wasn't really worried about their blase attitude before, but man this is getting to be very weird. Keep up the good writing.

    Razzmatazz ago

    Thank you very kindly for reading! You aren't worrying about it, are you? Please do not

    heridfel ago

    Yeah, this is where Obscura’s influence on their mental state seems extremely pronounced. All animals have a pretty powerful instinct to get away from places where similar animals are dead/being killed. That is survival, so that whatever killed the dead ones won’t kill them too.

    People can overcome that instinct with effort, but all of them seem to lack it entirely. No way does this city seem safe enough to stay in, let alone to try to build a major structure in. They are going to need some major plot armor unless Obscura is powerful enough to make it divine protection armor instead.

YJarex ago

I think this whole 'war' business is being blown way out of proportion. I mean, what's so bad about war? It means Hinenis weapons are high in demand, monster chunks for said weapons are abundant like flies in a pigsty, and property prices are an absolute steal. It's just good business.

MTB ago

"Hineni nods. This was a productive, helpful conversation for all parties involved." - He aced the upper management test!


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